As I write, I'm sipping on a tea blend called 'Dober Tek', Slovenian for bon appetit. This tea blend is made from the recipe of the late Slovenian herbalist and monk, Simon Ašič. Ripe grapes are hanging heavily on the vine to my right, and my cousin plays with his young kids to my left. I've taken a month away from my life and business in California to connect with my family and the herbal traditions of Slovenia.
The pressure to Americanize effects all immigrants, especially the children of immigrants who are eager to adapt to their new culture. Much can be lost in this transition- language, recipes, songs, ritual and skills. I have seen first hand the effects of immigration and Americanization, I am a product of it.
I was very close to my Slovenian Grandmother and traveled with her to see our family in Slovenia. Her cooking, language and kitchen medicine were foundational to my upbringing. Sadly, many of her home remedies were disregarded and replaced with pharmaceuticals. When she died, the recipes she had made for years were never written down and tastes associated with home and comfort couldn't be satiated. My mom and uncles still speak Slovenian, but the kids of the family can't despite the fact that some of us spoke very well when we were young. These losses might seems small, but they are symptoms of a deep disconnection from where and who we come from.
I didn't anticipate that my path in herbalism would lead to the story of my Grandmother, or my lineage or the lost (or stolen) skills of women all over the world. But here I am, and with that much more gratitude to the plants for offering their profound and practical medicine -and wisdom.